The Vote: Potential Aftermath

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

The Ted Cruz (R-TX) informal Obamacare funding filibuster is predicted to inflict political harm, but there is a myriad of opinion as to who will suffer the most severe consequences for their respective votes at the polling place, if anyone.

Below are the names of the 18 Republican senators who supported Cruz by voting “No” on the continuing resolution cloture petition last Friday, and when they next face the voters:

    Senators voting NO (alphabetical by state):

  • Jeff Sessions (R-AL), 2014
  • Richard Shelby (R-AL), 2016
  • Marco Rubio (R-FL), 2016
  • Mike Crapo (R-ID), 2016
  • Jim Risch (R-ID), 2014
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA), 2016
  • Pat Roberts (R-KS), 2014
  • Jerry Moran (R-KS), 2016
  • Rand Paul (R-KY), 2016
  • David Vitter (R-LA), 2016
  • Deb Fischer (R-NE), 2018
  • Dean Heller (R-NV), 2018
  • Rob Portman (R-OH), 2016
  • Jim Inhofe (R-OK), 2014
  • Pat Toomey (R-PA), 2016
  • Tim Scott (R-SC), 2014
  • Mike Lee (R-UT), 2016
  • Mike Enzi (R-WY), 2014
    Not Voting:

  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ), 2018
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT), 2018

It’s possible, however, that certain Republican senators voting “Aye” and standing for election next year are in the more vulnerable position. The senators facing primary opposition include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), himself. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is the other Aye-voting senator already facing an intra-party challenge.

The salient question becomes: will the vote favoring cloture – a vote Sen. Cruz defines as supporting the implementation of Obamacare – boost challengers to McConnell and Graham and possibly cause Texas conservatives to recruit an opponent for Sen. John Cornyn? Based upon the success rates from conservatives challenging Republicans labeled as “establishment” in previous primaries since 2008, the latter scenario involving Cornyn is likely. And with the current series of votes reasonably believed as being the last chance to stop the Obamacare program, such Cruz-related challenge efforts must be taken seriously.

Sen. McConnell is facing wealthy hedge fund executive Matt Bevin in the May 20, 2014 Kentucky Republican primary. The two are, even before this cloture issue came about, already engaging in an airwave battle. Bevin has the ability to self-fund, so this is a legitimate challenge and likely to become energized, at least in the short term, over the incumbent’s decision to oppose the Cruz effort.

Before Cruz assumed control of the Senate floor last week, South Carolina’s Sen. Graham said he would vote to “defund” Obamacare. Instead, he voted in favor of the cloture petition. Three Republicans are already running against the two-term South Carolina incumbent: state Sen. Lee Bright, businesswoman Nancy Mace who is the first female graduate of The Citadel, and businessman and former congressional candidate Richard Cash. Will Graham’s actions in opposing Cruz ignite more conservative fervor against him, particularly in favor of Mace who appears to be the strongest of his three opponents? Almost assuredly, the answer to this question is, yes.

Though no serious Republican primary opposition has yet emerged against Sen. Cornyn, considering that Sen. Cruz hails from the Lone Star State and just defeated an establishment Republican figure with greater name identification and a huge advantage in financial resources, it is reasonable to believe that an effort will quickly be made to identify, recruit, and support a more conservative Republican primary challenger. Expect action of this sort to begin in the next few days.

The 2014 election cycle has just begun in earnest.

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